Nine Scottish livestock organisations have committed to getting a voluntary electronic tagging (EID) pilot scheme set up by the end of 2018.
The stakeholder groups in favour of the move include meat wholesalers, dairy and beef cattle associations, the farmers’ union NFU Scotland and auctioneers.
They say they want Scotland to be prepared for the inevitable introduction of electronic tags and ensure any scheme that is devised is best suited to the needs of the Scottish industry.
However the stakeholder group chairman, NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick, admitted that any system that was adopted would need to be compatible with schemes in the rest of the UK. “We can’t have a different system,” he said. The Scottish Government has already committed to supporting an EID pilot, which Mr McCornick said was vital to making it happen.
He added: “We believe that ScotEID is best placed to develop the pilot proposals and we are currently awaiting further details from it on what it proposes for the early stages of the pilot.
“Our ambition is to see this pilot become a reality in 2018 and we will work closely with all stakeholders to best address any concerns and establish the clear benefits of using modern technology for cattle identification.
“Electronic tags and collars are already prevalent on some dairy and beef enterprises for management purposes and we want to identify a solution that allows the benefits that these businesses are already seeing to be shared across the whole supply chain.”
The aim is to see a pilot launched around the time of the Royal Highland Show in June, with electronic tags ultimately making paper passports obsolete.
Mr McCornick added that a pilot scheme should be open to anyone who wanted to be in it and tags would be similar to those used at the moment, but with the addition of an electronic chip.